The “Positive Narrative” is an overarching theme, not predefined messages or particular language. For example, a Positive Narrative might be conveyed by including:
The choice depends on who is messaging, the goals and audience for the message, the communication channels, and other factors. In other words, the Positive Narrative should fit the message Strategy. For a fundraising appeal, the Positive Narrative might take the form of organizational success stories. A campaign aimed at helping parents to recognize and address suicidal behavior might include action-oriented information about what signs to look for, how to have a conversation about those signs, and when and how to take other action. The fundraising and parent messages are quite different, but each conveys the overarching message that suicide is preventable and reinforces that idea by illustrating what prevention looks like in action.
Focusing on the positive does not mean hiding the tragedy of suicide, avoiding discussion of people who have died by suicide, or never talking about suicide as a problem. Rather, we hope to increase the likelihood that the public also receives positive and helpful messages about prevention. The goal is to use our collective voice as a field, and be proactive in shaping public perceptions about suicide. No single message alone creates a narrative, but every message adds to it. By incorporating some aspect of the Positive Narrative, every message about suicide can help shape the public’s views about prevention.
As a reminder, the call for positive messaging pertains only to public messaging and therefore does not extend to non-public communications such as private conversations, support group discussions, doctor-patient visits, one-on-one meetings with decision-makers, planning documents for coalitions, or problem statements for funders.
The Framework for Successful Messaging is a project of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
Learn more about the Action Alliance.
The Action Alliance is supported by grants (1 U79 SM059945; 3 U79 SM059945) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). No official endorsement by SAMHSA or DHHS for the information on this website is intended or should be inferred.
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